BIDDEFORD – Running back Jared Jensen of Brunswick led the state in rushing last year with 2,351 yards. Quarterback Jordan Whitney led Mt. Blue to the Class B state title while passing for 29 touchdowns.
And both feel they didn’t get the recognition they deserved.
They have a chance to change that Saturday in the 24th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl at Waterhouse Field. Game time is 4 p.m.
The top graduated seniors are invited each year to play in the game, which benefits Shriners’ Hospitals. Every year brings plenty of talent, and this year is no exception.
Besides Jensen and Whitney, who were both named to the Maine Sunday Telegram All-State team, the East has All-State receiver Chandler Shostak of Cony. Spencer Carey, another All-State player, played quarterback and defensive back for Lawrence.
Although new players come into the game every year, the East, as a whole, feels it has something to prove. The West holds a 17-6 edge in the series and won last year’s game, 48-24.
Speaking for his team, Jensen said: “We feel we definitely have something to prove. The West thinks they’re going to kick our butts. They’ve got another thing coming if they think that.”
With both teams expecting to have wide-open offenses, it could be another high-scoring affair in the game’s tradition.
“It’s going to be a fast-paced game,” said East Coach Dave Sterling of Edward Little.
“The West’s offensive coordinator, Kevin Cooper, likes to spread the ball out. So does our offensive coordinator, Mike Hathaway of Leavitt. They have similar concepts.
“I told both Jared and Jordan they should play like they have a little chip on their shoulders. Our job is to make Jensen and Whitney the offensive showcases.”
Jensen said he’s OK with the fact West players get more publicity. He and Whitney haven’t talked about it during this week but, said Jensen, “He’s on the same page.”
During the week of practice, Whitney impressed coaches with his ability to deliver the ball in tight coverage. Besides a strong arm, Whitney has the ability to escape heavy pressure, which he demonstrated several times in the state final.
The West has its share of big- play performers. Running backs Don Goodrich of Cheverus and Alex Shain of Sanford have speed and power. Both were selected to the All-State team. Goodrich scored 28 touchdowns and rushed for 1,722 yards. Shain also scored 28 TDs and rushed for 1,434 yards.
At quarterback the West will have Dillon Russo of Scarborough and Jake Desrochers of Massabesic. Both are excellent runners, with Russo also possessing a strong, accurate arm.
“We want to win,” said Shain. “Both teams will be as competitive as they can be. We had lunch with the East team during the week but we’ll be butting heads on Saturday.”
Like Sterling, Steve Stinson of South Portland is serving as head coach for the first time. He likes the talent for the West.
“We’ve got the talent to spread the field. We want to get our athletes in space. With so many talented athletes on the field, that’s what makes this game so exciting,” said Stinson.
The players are looking forward to playing one more game with their high school affiliation. After that, many will take their games to the college level. For others, this is their final game.
NOTES: Lobster Bowl officials are warning spectators to be prepared for a weather delay if severe thunderstorms hit the area Saturday.
Spectators would be asked to leave the stadium until the storm is over, and the game would be delayed until at least 30 minutes after thunder and lightning stops. Updates about when the game would start or resume will be posted on the Lobster Bowl’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/lobsterbowl) and on Twitter (@mainegames or #lobsterbowl).
Helping out the West coaching staff this week was Bert Rich, the 1992 Fitzpatrick Trophy winner from South Portland. Stinson played against Rich in high school and was a teammate at the University of Maine. He was happy to have Rich offer his expertise to star running backs Goodrich and Shain.
Rich, who lives in Tampa, Fla., said he was on vacation visiting his mom.
“I really missed this game,” said Rich. “I love the Lobster Bowl.”
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: